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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Of Baseball Fields and Trolley Loops

With a few hours, two commenters wrote on different subjects but dealing generally with the same area, namely the McDonald Avenue area in Brooklyn between the Ditmas Avenue and Avenue I stations.  One writer wrote about the Swedish Trolley car that ran in 1961 under wire power on McDonald Avenue.  I posted this picture before and the rights to the picture and the trolley itself is stored in the New York Trolley Museum in upstate  New York.  A second writer commented on my posted aerial 1924 view of Kensington Junction including the area around 16th Avenue.  The writer provided a link dealing with a lot between Gravesend Avenue (McDonald Avenue) and East 2nd Street between Cortelyou Road and Ditmas Avenue.  To my surprise, that block was the location of  important Baseball field before the 1920's.....  see comments from Artie:

Well, something that is lost in history is that large, rectangular shape at the bottom of the photo, just to the right of center. This plot of land between McDonald and E. 2nd, and Cortelyou Rd and Ditmas Ave. is "Suburban Oval." A multi-use athletic field on which H.S., Prep School, College AND Professional AND Semi-Profession Major League and Negro League Teams played. This included the Brooklyn Superbas in 1912 and 1913 featuring, among others, Casey Stengel. The owners lost their lease about 1916, and it fell into disuse until the mid-1920s when the land was developed.
More info can be found at

Some aerials of the area are shown below:

The same area before the labels where added:
The next two pictures come from new Daves Rail Pix.

This southbound PCC car 1023 on the 50 McDonald Route is just about to enter the lead track to the Kesington Loop to the left of the picture.  You can see that to the right of the trolley car, the east side of McDonald Avenue south of Cortelyou Road at least between 1951 and 1956 did not have many buildings on it.  Perhaps the shack was previously part of the base ball field?  From the structure of the elevated structure, it looks like the fourth track was not added yet for the future Culver Shuttle and the date of the picture must be the early fifties.  This is from the Dave Pirmann  collection from Joe Testagrose.  The photo of the Swedish streetcar posted is not from this spot.

A PCC car just completed the loop and is headed north.  From the Frank Pfuhler collection.  Notice that the fourth track to the Culver Line Ditmas Avenue station has been added. Also notice the coal bin in the extreme left of the picture.  The traditional Culver Line (mainline) takes a sharp curve east in the background towards the 13th Avenue Station.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Folks,

    Belated thanks for quoting me in the above item on Suburban Oval. I'm doing more extensive research on the field, and will post it here once I'm complete.

    As the dimensions were about 260 ft. to the right field fence, Suburban Oval would have been impractical going into the 1920s as the baseball became much livelier. Routine fly balls would have been flying out onto and over East 2nd St.

    More to come on this!